Pass the Bolly and toast justice

Justice has come for his beleaguered friends Neil and Christine, says John Fuller-Carp, aka John Bird. Now they can retire from the media spotlight for the rest of the week
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The Independent Online

In the week that the police dropped their investigation into the Hamiltons, the top London barrister John Fuller-Carp (played by John Bird in the BBC comedy Chambers) continues his occasional diary and provides an invaluable perspective on the alleged incident, the growth of modern technology in the lives of today's lawyers, and Cherie Booth's love of Tupperware.


Injustice upon injustice. Why are the snipers out to get Neil and Christine Hamilton? To have every detail of their day endlessly picked over in public. It's the last thing they would want. Why can't people see Neil was simply doing what any other undischarged bankrupt and ex-barrister would have done. He was buying champagne for that night's dinner party, of course. That is something that the so called "champagne" socialists should think about before they criticise a man of Neil's integrity.


Haven't these fine people suffered enough? The indignity of having to go public on the unpalatable fact that they shop in... Waitrose! It's inhuman! Prior to the bankruptcy they would undoubtedly have been the proud owners of a credit card receipt bearing the names Marks & Spencer, or perhaps even Harrods, where, until recent times, their credit was always good. Have we really reached a stage in the life of this country when a man like Neil Hamilton cannot leave a public building carrying a brown paper bag without groundless suspicions being raised? My heart goes out to him and his wife.


Vince, my clerk, finally managed to get the e-mail function on my computer working. My delight at receiving my first e-mail diminished somewhat as I read the words "penis enlargement". After careful study it emerged that this was not a personal message at all, but a piece of cyberspace junkmail. I was so outraged by the content of this unwarranted e-mail that I replied saying how angry, disappointed and frustrated I was. The clinic replied telling me that many of their clients felt that way before the minor surgical procedure, but that such feelings soon abated with the prosthetic implant. I think we were at cross purposes.


How can anyone doubt that the guests at the Hamilton's dinner party will exonerate Neil and Christine. I'm sure that like every other sensible couple hosting a London dinner party, Neil and Christine take the simple precaution of getting each guest to sign and date a declaration as to their whereabouts and the whereabouts of their hosts. Christine would no doubt ensure that guests update their declaration every fifteen minutes, to cover eventualities such as Neil visiting the lavatory or having to leave momentarily to change ties. Without such simple precautions, how can anyone be expected to enjoy an evening out with friends?


Another e-mail, this time offering a natural herbal alternative to Viagra. Taken from the root of the Arizona cactus. Why am I being sent these e-mails? This time I have had enough. I telephoned the Vibro Health Centre in Tilbury to register my concern at this unwarranted intrusion. The lady I spoke to, Violet, told me that all barristers and judges had been included in the mail out and that under no circumstances could my name be removed. Made a mental note to call the Bar Council.


Now Neil and Christine are being criticised for going public on their movements at the time of this alleged crime. Good for them I say. Shall tell Neil that it is my belief that a series of informal nationwide street parties should be held where people can meet together and chew over the issues in the case, from the Hamilton's perspective. Perhaps for once in this sorry saga I see a happy scene. Neil passing round the sausage rolls, whilst happy children join Christine in a chorus of "I will survive".


Read an article about Tony Blair, a former barrister himself of course, flying off on holiday on Ryanair. Some say that it is a little undignified for the Prime Minister to fly abroad on a low-cost airline, but I see it as a prime example of how barristers are part and parcel of normal society. I know that Cherie, who is from Liverpool I believe, would have relished preparing the egg and cress sandwiches and packing them in individual Tupperware containers for Tony, little Leo and the others, each one complete with a Penguin biscuit, a bag of Hula Hoops and can of Tizer. She may be a highly paid QC, but Cherie has got no airs or graces where Tony's lunchbox is concerned.


Neil's point that the accused are subject to public scrutiny whilst their accusers are given anonymity is a just one. How utterly unfair it is when members of the Russian mafia, the Chinese Triads or Yardie gunmen are accused in court in name, while those callous individuals who have been shot by the mafia or the Triads or the Yardies and witnessed their crimes come forward to give evidence in court and are allowed by law to retain their anonymity. Our system of justice is indeed endangered if we persist with this bizarre anomaly. Perhaps if some of the money invested in the witness protection schemes could be given directly to the likes of Neil and Christine Hamilton, we'd have a justice system with a little more credibility.


I drove the Rover in to work this morning but was unable to park in the Temple. It's so frustrating. Sometimes I think it would be quicker to walk from my flat in Gray's Inn. In the end I had to use a "pay and display" meter. Of course I didn't have the correct change with me. As I was struggling a friendly voice called out. Turning around I could have sworn it was Neil on his way to get the money back on his empty champagne bottles. In fact it turned out to be none other than the Lord Chancellor who offered me a few pound coins. I made a quip about him giving away the Government's entire budgetary commitment to next year's legal aid fund. He pondered for a moment and then hastily retrieved one of the coins. I'm as loath as anyone to accept money from the legal aid fund, but how else can a barrister be expected to park in London?

Finally justice. The police investigation into the Hamiltons has been dropped. Now at last Neil and Christine can fulfil what I presume to be their dearest wish and retire from the media spotlight for the rest of their week. Then it will be on with their libel action, the chat shows, and I firmly hope a well-earned feature in Hello magazine. Now that is what I call a good reason to crack open a crate or two of bubbly.

'Chambers' by Clive Coleman and starring John Bird is expected to return to BBC1 next year.

You can contact John Fuller-Carp for legal advice at